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Metro Virtual Pair

As part of our six-year vision to implement a planet-friendly, service-oriented IT infrastructure for our internal customers, Cisco has been consolidating data centers and gradually migrating functions and applications into a cloud architecture.  In our Bangalore, India and Richardson, Texas virtual tours, we discuss how consolidation, convergence, and virtualization of network, compute, and storage resources are improving efficiency by reducing OpEx and CapEx, while increasing availability.  In our new facility under construction, which we call Texas Data Center 2, or DC2, we are taking these incremental steps to the next level with a fully virtualized, cloud-based site that will complete the first of what we call a “metro virtual pair.”

You might not find “metro virtual pair” in a Google or dictionary search today.  It is not some form of a metro cluster.  Nor is it a hot standby module within a single platform supporting metro connectivity. It’s our term for an active-active configured pair of virtualized data centers located within a metropolitan area.  The active-active pair continually synchronizes transactions at the application and network layers, allowing both sites to perform service load balancing while providing a complete failover solution.  The combination of the active-active configuration with new solutions like Cisco Unified Computing System enables us to deliver a dynamic, services cloud while ensuring business continuity. 

In our chronicle of the building of DC2, Cisco Data Center 2011-Texas, Data Center Site Selection, we describe how the paired data centers must be located within 25 miles (40 km) of each other to keep application latency under 1 ms to support true service load balancing, but more than 10 miles (16 km) apart for resiliency against disaster.  We also talk about redundancy in building services, such as fiber, cable, power, and water, and our technical proof of concept collocation facility located nearby.

In Building a Metro Virtual Pair, we go deeper into the architecture and talk about how the pair is formed and temporarily connecting with the collocation site using some redundant building services and solutions such as the Cisco Unified Computing System, Cisco Nexus, EMC V-Max, and Cisco ONS 15454. 

While Cisco’s existing data center in Texas and the new Texas DC2 facility will create the first metro virtual pair, work is already under way in Amsterdam for our next pair to be located in Europe.   These are the first pairs intended to reduce about 50 of our data center sites worldwide down to 20.  And perhaps by the time we’ve accomplished that you’ll find “metro virtual pair” in your search results.

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